Photo credit: Sandra MacWatters
The next generation of the NASCAR Nationwide car represents the biggest change to the car during the past 20 years. Testing of 32 cars representing 25 car Nos. is being held at Daytona International Speedway on May 18th and 19th.
The "new car" is scheduled to race July 2nd at the Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona.
The car is also scheduled to race at Michigan in August, Richmond in September, and Charlotte in October.
It is basically a version of the NASCAR Sprint Cup COT that was mandated full-time in 2008.
With the economy floundering and sponsorship issues becoming bountiful, this change is costly for the Nationwide teams.
The safety elements are the main considerations for the new generation car.
Teams are troubled not only with cost factors, but how many cars to build, new components, how to most efficiently build the car, and, of course, the unknowns.
Nationwide car owners that have been involved in CUP racing are at an obvious advantage, as those teams have had two to three years experience with the COT.
The new car features a different wheelbase and chassis. Teams must decide whether to convert an existing Sprint Cup chassis or buy a brand new one. The chassis then has to be certified by NASCAR.
It is obviously less expensive to retro-fit an existing Sprint Cup car. According to Joe Balash, director of the NASCAR Nationwide series, 62% of the 85 chassis that have been certified are converted Sprint Cup chassis.
The Sprint Cup car does need a lot of modification. Only the roof and A-pillars will remain basically original.
When a car goes for inspection at NASCAR's R&D facility, it goes through a 100-plus-point inspection.
Every point will either pass or fail, and they have to fix the failures and bring the car back for inspection.
Safety features include a taller roof, and crush zones on each side of the car with more room around the driver.
The new body panels must fit the templates, and the sheet metal will be totally different from the Cup cars. Spoilers will be different as well to fit the changes with body dimensions.
The new NASCAR Nationwide car will run coil-bound setups requiring different suspension geometry.
Aero coefficients will be a challenge, running coil-bound instead of bump stops.
Testing at Daytona will concentrate on tapered spacer size, rear gear for rpm calculations, aero-package, front suspension, and cooling ducts.
Less horsepower with the Nationwide cars, as opposed to the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars, means smaller coolers, different radiator ducts and the ability to use more tape which would enhance the aero package.
It is an arduous task for teams to field two totally different cars in the same series simultaneously.
Phasing out 105-inch cars while making the transition to the 110-inch wheel base is a major, costly undertaking.
It is possible the shorter 105-inch cars can be sold off to other racing series, perhaps ARCA or the K&N Pro Series East.
NASCAR is cognizant of the costs involved and certainly changes will be made. Safety is foremost and nothing will compromise that.
The new generation NASCAR Nationwide car will be one that people will be able to relate to with the new styling. Excitement is rampant at Daytona and testing is going well.
A new NASCAR baby is evolving and fan excitement is guaranteed when they see this new model on the track.